Building Futures | Getting ex-offenders into work


At Acorn it’s about more than getting people into work. We are building communities, strengthening social structures and laying strong foundations for the future.  

We partner with organisations that are forces for social good, to rehabilitate ex-offenders and support the homeless, increase the representation of women in construction and help the long term unemployed back into work.

We’ve placed 40 ex-offenders into permanent construction, manufacturing and engineering roles since 2017, creating £1,013,640 Gross Value Add* for the economy, and cutting the cost of re-offending by £427,990**. We have provided 1,448 weeks of paid work to long-term unemployed candidates, equating to £466,603 in wages.

Our mission statement is to engage candidates furthest from the job market, and leave no stone left unturned when granting opportunities to be part of the projects shaping our future.


Building Futures | Getting ex-offenders into work

Ashleigh didn’t have the best start in life. He fell into the wrong crowd, suffered a series of family tragedies and was stuck in a cycle of drug misuse and offending. A destructive pattern that led to him almost losing his life in a knife attack. Before Acorn got him a job as a General Operative on Willmott Dixon’s Taff Vale site, he’d been out of work for seven months.

''I stopped bothering with my old mates, got a flat and a job sorted, I’m out of the gutter and ready to climb the ladder. I’m learning new skills all the time, thanks to Willmott I finished a Cherry Picker course and training to use mobile access equipment. My goal is to get on a slingers course and see my wages go up. I never thought I’d have a goal like that, at one point managing to get by and stay out of trouble was the best I thought life could get.

When you’ve got no structure, no routine, your life can get out of hand. Joining The School of Hard Knocks and having Acorn’s support gave me stability and a something to strive for, without that guidance, I’m not sure how I’d have managed.’’


Ashleigh, Merthyr. General Operative at Willmott Dixon

Building Futures | Getting ex-offenders into work

Rob has always taken pride in his work. A jack of all trades, he was a clerical officer, factory worker and a firefighter for more than 20 years. Sadly Rob landed on tough times when his father passed away.

‘‘After more than three decades in the workforce, things got a bit rocky when we lost dad. My wife and I parted ways soon after and I spent 12 months out of a job, it was the longest year of my life!

Acorn got me work on a site in Pontypridd, and it’s been great to work on a project that is building a landmark for the community. Getting my routine back and feeling part of a positive change has done wonders for my mental health. After so long in the workforce, I didn’t realise how much I depended on the structure. I’ve been on site for 10 months now, I’ve got my confidence back and can support myself again.’’


–  Rob, Ferndale. Gatesman at Willmott Dixon

A year ago Adam felt frustrated about his future, he’d been out of work for 7 months. His situation turned around quickly after he was introduced to Acorn via Ely’s community hub, Dusty Forge.

Adam had an NVQ Level 2 in Bricklaying and was keen to get back into the industry, despite having been out of construction for a long period of time.

‘‘Neither Acorn or Willmott held it against me, the fact I hadn’t worked on a site for about four years. They could see I wanted the opportunity. After years in various retail jobs and a long spell of unemployment, I was happy to work as a labourer and get myself back onto a site. They sorted my CSC card and got me a job within a week!

I’ve been on the site for almost a year now, and each day is different. I can’t imagine being out of work again. It’s a good feeling having a reason to get out of bed in the morning’’.


- Adam, Cardiff. Labourer at Willmott Dixon

Marc Jones
Technical Operations Director
Marc is Technical Operations Director for the Acorn Group. He has worked extensively with major construction industry leaders and now supports community projects with charities such as The Wallich, working to help fill the construction skills gap.
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